Monday, 18 October 2021

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Mother and Child Care Enhancement Foundation (MCCEF), an NGO, has disbursed N1.5m to 150 widows and orphans in Nasarawa State.

Wife of the Governor, Hajiya Salamatu Al-Makura, is the founder of organisation.

Alhaji Alhassan Adamu, Coordinator of the NGO, gave out the money on Saturday to the widows in Agyaragu, Lafia. He urged them to use the money to start up petty businesses of their choice.

Adamu said the gesture was aimed at reducing the hardship being faced by widows, orphans and the vulnerable children in the society.

He said the NGO was partnering with the Institute of Human Virology in the area of education, health, skills acquisition and child protection to enable orphans and vulnerable children enjoy good life in the state.

The NGO coordinator called on the beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the money to better their lives and of their children.

Adamu urged Muslims and other Nigerians to use the Ramadan period to pray for the unity and peace of the state and the country at large.

Chairman, Child Rights Protection in the area, Mr Yahaya Madaki, described the gesture as first of its kind in the area and called for its sustenance.

He appreciated the organisation for the gesture, adding that it would go a long way in improving the standard of living of the beneficiaries.

Messrs Oche John and Maisugar Murtala, beneficiaries who spoke on behalf of others, prayed God to bless the organisation and promised to make judicious use of the money.

Published in News & Stories
Saturday, 03 June 2017 14:02

Benue Gov Votes, Sure Of APC Victory

Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue has expressed optimism that the All Progressive Congress (APC) would win the ongoing local government elections in the state.

“I am very impressed with the organisation of the exercise and the massive turnout; I am happy that people are excited to vote. I am optimistic that the APC will sweep the polls,” Ortom said in Guma, shortly after casting his vote.

The governor, who voted at 10.35 am, at Ako polling unit, Ndzorov ward of Guma, urged Benue residents to vote credible and tested candidates so as to ensure the best for the state.

He said he insisted on holding the election “to install democracy and instill discipline, accountability and sanity in local government administration”.

Ortom said that the APC took its campaign to all parts of the state to sell its candidates to the voters, and expressed hope that the “change” message had taken roots in the state.

He urged the people to take advantage of the exercise to install democratic structures that would do their bidding, especially in the rural areas.

Ortom commended the peaceful conduct of the electorate, saying that adequate security arrangement had been put in place toward a peaceful exercise.

He also commended the Federal High Court, Makurdi over its June 2 judgement that gave the electoral body the nod to conduct the polls, declaring that it was wrong for the rival PDP to seek to use its internal crisis as an excuse to stop the elections.

The court had thrown out an appeal by the Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, seeking to stop the election following the rejection of its candidates by the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC).

A NAN correspondent, who monitored the election in Gwer East, Makurdi, Guma, Tarkaa, Gboko and Butruku Local Governments, however, observed that there was a low turnout of voters for the exercise.

Election materials arrived very late in many polling units, with some still waiting for the materials at 12 noon.

The last local government election was conducted in Benue was conducted in 2012.

Published in News & Stories

Former Commissioner for Information in Cross River, Mr Patrick Ugbe, who was kidnapped in Calabar on June 1, has regained freedom.

Ugbe, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Hit Fm 95.9, was kidnapped by gunmen at Ekpo Iso Street in Ikot Ansa, Calabar.

ASP Irene Ugbo, Police Public Relations Officer in the State, confirmed this in a telephone interview in Calabar on Saturday.

“As we speak, the CEO of Hit Fm has been released and he is right now with his family.

“No ransom was paid, the combined efforts of security agencies in the state and the office of the State Security Adviser were on top of the matter to secure his release.

“We thank God that he was released alive without any harm.

“The police, in collaboration with other sister agencies in the state, would continue to work together to safe guard the lives and property of the citizens’’, she said.

Ugbe also served as Chief Press Secretary and Commissioner for Youth and Sports in the eight-year tenure of Sen. Liyel Imoke as Governor of the state.

Published in News & Stories

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has criticised the proposed N5 petrol levy by the Senate, describing it as a huge joke.

Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the South-West Chairman of NUPENG, said in Lagos on Saturday that the proposal was ill-timed and also smacked of insensitivity to the current economic hardships facing Nigerians.

He wondered how the nation’s Upper Chamber could think of another fuel price increase when Nigerians were “striving to
cope with the current harsh economic realities”.

“How can the Senate propose such a bill at this particular period when poor Nigerians can hardly feed themselves?

“The prices of foodstuffs have tripled in the market, while workers’ salary has not been increased,” Korodo said.

Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano), the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, had on June 1, presented a bill entitled, “National Roads Bill” to the House.

The bill recommends that Nigerians should pay N5 levy on every litre of imported petroleum products and that levy will form part of the proposed national roads fund.

It also recommends the deduction of 0.5 per cent on fares paid by passengers travelling on inter-state roads to commercial mass transit operators as well as the return of toll gates on federal roads, among others.

Korodo said: “Just a year ago, the pump price of petrol was increased from N87 to N145 per litre and Nigerians accepted the increment because of the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“Any attempt to adjust the price of petrol under any guise will be resisted by Organised Labour.”

The NUPENG chief called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the leadership of the Senate to step down the bill.

Published in Headliners

ONE of the greatest disincentives to military coups in Nigeria is the liberalisation of the broadcast media. If you seize a radio station in Kaduna to announce a coup, another officer will seize a television or radio station in Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Ibadan or Rivers, to counter the coup. If you attempt a military putsch through an announcement on air in Owerri, someone else will make a counter announcement on radio or television in Abuja, Ebonyi, Jos, Ekiti or Bayelsa. It is no longer easy to plan a successful coup in Nigeria.

And to detect coup attempts is now so easy. Unlike the 60s to 90s when telecommunication lines can be cut in order to restrict access to information, as you mention your illegal attempt in one barracks, before you take two steps, the information has reached another barracks. So, how do you conceal a coup attempt in the era of GSM, Watsapp, Twitter, indeed all agents of instant communication? And coup is an offence against your country, a high treason. The experiences of men of the Armed Forces in the coup years of the 60s to 90s have nearly destroyed esprit de corps. And so, how do you expect Igbo, Yoruba or Ijaw soldiers to obey orders from a Hausa officer to overthrow an elected government? In the same vein, Hausa soldiers will not obey illegal orders from Yoruba, Igbo or Ijaw to sack a civil government, no matter how good or bad the elected government is.

Drawing from the benefit of hindsight, Nigerians will prefer a devil in civilian dress to a saint in an army uniform. It was military rule that brought the country to its knees. Indeed, while the civilians in the 60s allegedly stole in secret, the military governments looted the country dry, and openly. This country has not recovered from the pains of military rule and may not fully recover from the depredations foisted on the nation via coup d’etats in the next 50 years because it is easier to destroy than to build. For instance, the regular assault on civilians by some soldiers is a hangover from the military rule. In developed climes, soldiers accord civilians regard and utmost respect to all constituted civil authorities.

Finally, a military coup in the present day Nigeria will only lead to civil war and disintegration of the country. With Boko Haram, MASSOP, IPOD, OPC, MEND, NDA, etc, no soldier will dare to attempt an illegal occupation of Aso Rock and Government Houses across Nigeria. There is so much inter and cross ethnic suspicion in the country such that any officer illegally occupying power will be viewed as that tribe trying to achieve by the barrels of gun what it could not achieve through the ballox box. No section will be able to lay claim to monopoly of violence. Civil war will be the consequence.

Good or bad civilian government , the era of military regime is over in Nigeria. The military is not the watchdog of our democracy and should not constitute itself into one. That role has been handed to the press by the constitution. The military is not an alternative government, not being a political party. The teachers are carrying out their lawful duties in the classrooms, the doctors and nurses are fulfilling their constitutional mandates in the hospitals, with the farmers in the farms. So should the members of the Armed Forces fulfil their lawful duties of defending the country against external aggression and internal insurrection as permitted by the constitution and the Armed Forces Act in their barracks. This is the right and proper way to build a nation that we all can be proud of. The military cannot claim to be more important than teachers. Neither can doctors claim superiority over the police. Let every one and every institution fulfil its constitutional mandate.

If one political party in power is not doing well, then let another political party replace it at the next general election. That is the prescription in all civilised societies. Our country can only develop when all hands are on deck to deepen the current civil rule.

  • Dr Joseph, a social researcher, writes in from Abuja
Published in Parliament

There is no denying that we spend a large proportion of our lives at work, which is why our careers are so important to us. If you’re thinking about taking the next step in your professional career, now is the time to make a change and push yourself to achieve more.

However, with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which direction is the best to take. Would simply reading a book help you to achieve greater success? Or would academic guidance add more value to your professional journey?

Returning to university is an excellent way to gain the skills and knowledge you need to move up the career ladder as it provides a managed journey through carefully curated content. Thanks to the advancement of online degrees, there’s also no need to quit your job to continue your studies, providing an accessible solution for the career-driven professional. In fact, millions of people around the world have already been jumping on this opportunity as the demand for online education continues.

Amongst our digital students is Tosan Ozoro, who studies the Online Masters of Public Administration at the University of Birmingham. Currently working as a Relationship Manager at Keystone Bank in Lagos, Tosan is using her degree to move into the public sector and make a difference to Nigerian society. After researching her options, she concluded that studying online was a feasible solution as she could continue to work whilst learning at a highly rated institution.

A course aligned to your career goals
With many online degrees to choose from, it’s important to undertake research to find a course which suits your needs and aligns with your career goals.

As a member of the Russell Group and world ‘top 100’ University (QS World University Rankings, 2017), the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, is committed to producing the very best research and innovative teaching experiences.

We offer three career-focused online degrees:

A course structured around you
Your location or professional situation won’t restrict you as there’s no need to relocate or pause your career to head to the UK. This allows you to make a difference to your surrounding economy.

For Online MBA student Patrick Gettleman, studying online was his only option: “With my job and career path, I travel for work almost on a weekly basis and could not be successful with a part-time program in person,” he explained. “I would simply miss way too many classes.

“I also liked the fact that there are live connect sessions 4 times per module. This helps to give the feel of connection to the courses that sometimes online education makes difficult to get. It doesn’t hurt that I have been able to join the connect sessions from 3 continents so far in my 6 months of study!”

Test and share your new knowledge immediately
Any skills and knowledge you acquire can be applied to your career in real time. You can also pass on this valuable knowledge to your colleagues, helping you stand out in the workplace.

Current Online MSc International Business student, Helena Feibert, explains the benefits:

“I have gained a deeper insight into many aspects of an international business and I have been able to not only apply theories in my work activities but also analyse past events and decisions to better understand the motivation behind them,” she said.

Throughout your studies, you’ll be interacting with students and lecturers from all over the world, from various professional backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to gain a global perspective on challenges you’re facing at work.

Advance your career today
Learning to juggle personal, professional and educational commitments can sometimes be difficult, but your return on investment – your career enhancement – should pay dividends.

You’ll receive plenty of support when you study online, just as you would if you were on-campus. Dr Michael Shulver, Director of Online Content at Birmingham Business School, explains: “As soon as students have accepted an offer – even before they join – they can talk online with someone from our Careers Team,” he said. “There’s direct support on, for example, resume preparation and interviews.”

What are you waiting for? Join online students across the globe by enrolling to study at the University of Birmingham. Applications for our next intake are open. For more information visit our webpages.

This article is sponsored content brought to you by the University of Birmingham.

Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: ABUJA-Presidency Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday told former President Goodluck Jonathan to be afraid of probe only if there is skeleton in his cupboard. The president also refuted claims that he was harassing the family of the former Nigerian leader in any way.

Buhari’s remarks followed an outburst by Jonathan in a new book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi that the present administration was hounding members of his family with its anti-corruption crusade.

In a statement by Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina on Wednesday, President Buhari told Jonathan that “fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office.” The president asked anyone with valuable grievances to approach the courts for redress.

The statement read thus: “The Presidency is constrained to respond to the banner headline story in a national newspaper of Wednesday, April 26, entitled: Buhari’s govt harassing my family, saying Jonathan. “The paper said former President Goodluck Jonathan made the allegation in a new book, “Against The Run of Play”, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi. “The former president also reportedly disagreed with the style being used by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in fighting corruption.

“We make bold to state unequivocally that President Buhari harasses nobody; he merely allows the law to take its course. For the umpteenth time, we say that anybody without skeleton in his or her cupboard, has nothing to fear about the bared fangs of the anti-corruption initiative. “Fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office. Anybody who feels aggrieved is free to approach the courts to seek redress or justice. President Buhari believes in the rule of law and that is why his campaign against corruption is anchored on that plank.

“With regard to President Buhari’s anti-graft style, which the former president deprecates, given the scale of revelations and recoveries so far by the anti-corruption agencies, it is obvious that corruption had an uninhibited course during our recent past. “In any case, time will give the verdict on whose style of fighting corruption ultimately yielded the most dividends. “For now, President Buhari is resolute and single-minded in the fact that his crusade against graft is not targeted at any individual or group. “He firmly believes that national interest must always be placed above personal interest, no matter who is involved.”



Published in Politics

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: Veteran Nollywood actor, Prince James Uche, who has been battling with Diabetes, Blindness, High Blood Pressure and kidney-related disease for about two years now is dead. The actor died yesterday afternoon while on his way to carry out his routine dialysis in a private hospital in Festac, Lagos.

The Chairman, Lagos State chapter of Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, Mr. Don Pedro Aganbi confirmed the sad news to Vanguard. Late Prince Uche. He said, the late Prince James Uche was due to travel to India this Saturday for a kidney transplant before he met his untimely death yesterday. “He sa gotten his visa to travel to India this Saturday. But only few days ago, he started having complication and had to give up this afternoon, while he was being taken to the hospital for his routine dialysis,” he said.

Aganbi described Prince Unche’s demise a rude shock to the industry, adding “we were all hoping that he would recover soon since he was due to travel to India for a kidney transplant.” The actor’s conditioned is said to have worsened last Sunday, as he has been unconscious since then. Footage emerged online of the actor in his unconscious state. Prince Uche who has been in the hospital for about a year and seven months reportedly required N2.6 million to pay his hospital bill and N11 million for kidney transplant and eye surgery in India.

It would be recalled that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State through #SavePrinceJamesUche team led by Rita Edochie and Chioma Okoye the donated N3 million as well as approved N10 million as the state’s contribution to save the actor’s life last month. The tough-talking actor’s ordeal started way back in 2010, after he struck with a strange illness that did not only keep him off the screen for many years, but also impoverished him. A good friend of actor Pete Edochie, Prince Uche has featured in many movies like “Fair Game” “Stubborn Billionaires”, “Big Boys Club”, “Dangerous Mind”, “Dons In Abuja”, “Town In Danger” and “Rituals”among others.

Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: A Federal High Court Lagos on Tuesday fixed Feb. 16 to deliver judgment in a suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking forfeiture of funds linked to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.

Justice Muslim Hassan fixed the date after hearing arguments from counsels representing parties in the suit.

It would be recalled that Justice Hassan had on Jan. 6, issued an interim order of forfeiture of the sum of 153.3 million dollars to the Federal Government, following an exparte application by EFCC seeking similar relief.

The EFCC had initiated the exparte application seeking an interim order, for the temporary forfeiture to the FG, of the sum, which it claims is linked to Diezani.

The court had also issued 14 days to any interested party to appear and prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Tuesday, Mr Charles Adeogun, announced appearance for Dauda Lawal, an Executive Director of First Bank, who is joined as respondent in the suit.

On the other hand, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, announced appearance for the EFCC.

Oyedepo informed the court that in line with its interim orders of Jan. 6, the EFCC had served same on the respondent (Lawal).

He also informed the court that the order was also published in the Independence Newspaper of Jan. 12, in compliance with the orders of the court.

In response, counsel to Lawal (Adeogun) confirmed the position, and added that he had filed a counter affidavit deposed to by Lawal, challenging the said forfeiture orders.

Arguing his application, he urged the court to issue an order, directing a refund of the sum of N9.08 billion to his client, on the grounds that same was obtained by coercion.

He argued that before such forfeiture orders can be made, two essential elements must be satisfied, namely “that the property in question is unclaimed, and that such property or funds forms proceeds of an unlawful act’’.

He said: “We became aware of the forfeiture order when the interim order was served on us; my client was never confronted with these sets of facts during his incarceration at the EFCC.
“After service of the orders, I requested for the statement of my client to the commission, but same was never given to me,’’ he said.

He argued that his client admitted having received the sum of 25 million dollars in clear dispensation of his duties, but was coerced by the commission to further admit receiving a total of 65 million dollars.

According to him, the sum of 40 million dollars was therefore, taken as an overdraft from his bank to offset the alleged extra sum.

He, therefore, urged the court to order the immediate refund of the sum to his client.

In his reply, Oyedepo submitted that the tenure of Section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other related offence Act makes a property which is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, forfeitable to the federal government.

He queried: “Going by the facts and circumstances of this particular case, can it be said that the sum of N9.08 billion which is the naira equivalent of 40 million dollars, was not reasonably suspected to form proceeds of a crime?’’

He argued that paragraph 4 of the applicant’s reply affidavit showed a meeting of the minds of some members of staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as the respondent to launder funds.

“My lord, paragraph 4 of our reply affidavit shows a meeting of the minds of one Gbenga Komolafe, former group MD, Crude Oil Marketing Division NNPC; Prince Haruna Momoh, former Group MD, Petroleum Product Marketing Company; Umar Farouk Ahmed, Group MD Nigerian Product Marketing Company, as well as Dauda Lawal, to launder funds on behalf of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison Madueke,’’ he said.

According to Oyedepo, “it will amount to contesting the obvious for Lawal to argue that he had no knowledge of the said sums’’.

He argued that it was uncommon for a law enforcement agency like the EFCC to detain a person in its custody in perpetuity, without an order of the court, adding that the statement of Lawal was lawfully obtained.

“The respondent was duly cautioned before he voluntarily made his statement at the commission, and his lawyer even appended his signature further attesting to the fact that the statements were obtained voluntarily.

“So having freely volunteered a statement, he cannot urge my lord not to attach full probative value to his statement.

“I submit that the appropriate order in the circumstance is for the court to order a final forfeiture of the sum of N9.08 billion already surrendered by the respondent, to the Federal Government.’’

He also urged the court to order the forfeiture of other sums to which no claim had been laid.

“I urge the court to so hold,’’ he said.

After listening to the submission of counsels, Justice Hassan fixed Feb. 16 for judgment.

Published in Headliners

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A former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, says embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), gave him N100m on the instruction of Jonathan.

Okupe, who served as Jonathan’s spokesman from 2012 to 2015, added that he received N10m monthly from Dasuki to pay salaries and run a weekly programme on NTA.

The former presidential aide said this in a Facebook post on Sunday while reacting to his arrest and interrogation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The EFCC had alleged that Okupe received N85m from Dasuki at different times.

In his reaction, Okupe said, “The initial N50m was approved by the President to be paid to me from his security vote. N10m was to furnish my rented living apartment and another N10m for my office. The balance N30m was approved as take-off grant.

“The N10m I received from the ONSA monthly was to run my office, pay salaries of staff, including overheads, pay expenses for our numerous press conferences, pay for publications in newspapers, magazines, local and foreign, television programmes, bulletins, and media consultants who assist and facilitate our work. I had about 23 staff, 11 were graduates out of which five were master’s degree holders.

“The second N50m was approved again by Mr. President when I reported to him that the monthly allowance had been cut from N10m to N5m and that I was no longer in position to keep running a one-hour NTA network programme called INSIGHT which was aired 9-10am every Friday.

“We paid NTA about N1.2m monthly for airtime. Two presenters were paid N600,000 monthly. We paid for tapes and editing per programme. Besides we also pay honorarium for guests either directly or in form of hotel bills for those outside Abuja, or transportation.

“This cost averagely N500,000 weekly or about N2m monthly. All in all we spend about N4m monthly on the programme. Mr. President promised to help with the expenses. About a few months later when we had incurred some debts the NSA sent me this N50m which was to cover the cost of the programme for 12 months.”

Okupe, who was also quizzed for allegedly receiving some dubious contracts from a local council in Niger State to the tune of N76.5m, said his company, Romix soilfix, was one of the over 20 construction companies who were duly awarded contracts for rural roads some five years ago by the Niger State Government.

He explained that due to lack of funds, contractors were paid irregularly making the job to drag.

“The job is still ongoing. The relationship of this to my service as senior special assistant to President is still not clear,” Okupe said.

The former presidential aide criticised the EFCC for allegedly releasing details about his health.

Okupe confirmed that he suffered a heart problem and he only explained this to investigators to prevent him from being detained.

He added, “I was born with sinus bradycadia, a non-disease based slowness of the heart. It precluded me from vigorous exercise from childhood but I have by God’s grace been able to live a normal and active life.

“With age the slowness grew worse and life threatening. I sought medical help and went through a procedure at the Arrhythmia Cardiac Research Centre in Atlanta, where this defect was corrected. It was just a year ago and I am still under satellite monitor from the USA. This is what I revealed to the EFCC and they made it a public issue.”

Okupe maintained that he was not a thief, adding that he had only two houses: one in Lagos and in his hometown.

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Published in Headliners

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